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Uptown in the News  

May 7, 2003
Inside Online
JAM rumors for Uptown Theatre
By Jim Sterne, News Editor

Industry sources informed Inside that JAM Productions (JAM) has bid on the Uptown Theatre to use for their musical productions. Jerry Mickelson, owner of JAM, was not available for comment, and would not return phone calls.

This leaves the venue wide open to speculation and people are rising to the occasion.

Sources said that maybe they could keep the facade and lobby and tear down the auditorium even though the Uptown Theatre is on the Illinois Historical Structure Survey, listed on the National Registry, and designated a Chicago Landmark. Maybe a smaller theater could be built. Some have gone so far as to say that the area fronting Wilson Ave. could be mixed use commercial and residential. The parking lot to the west, if it is part of the package, would make a good condo site.

Others question the need for such a large theater in a neighborhood where there are already two venues, the Aragon and the Riviera Theater, within two blocks. "Who could afford to heat that huge building in winter, or cool it in summer?" one said.

Carol Carlson remains hopeful that her organization will take the Uptown back to its old glory. Carlson, director of the Uptown Center for Performing Arts, an organization that has been trying for years to raise the money to restore the theater, responded to Inside's question about the bid.

"I can neither confirm nor deny the JAM Productions rumor," Carlson said. "We are still trying to raise money for the purchase. Our fundraising is an ongoing process that will go on for the foreseeable future. After the purchase, we will need money for the restoration and renovation. After that, we will need to raise money for programming."

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